I'm finding it difficult to write a review for this book. I have put it off for a while to straighten it out it my mind. Just how do I express the level of enjoyment it gave me? I just don't have the ability to put it into writing. So I'll just have to say.....home run!
I won't go into detail on the plot to avoid ruining it for you, but the basic synopsis is that a small town farmer is blessed(cursed) with a newborn calf that has the face of Jesus on it's side. The ensuing story is hilarious and somewhat shocking. The ending is touching.
Michael Perry has managed to portray the Central Wisconsin life exactly as it is. I am from there myself, and despite being removed from God's country for the past 30 years, it brought me home like it was yesterday. I have read some of the other reviews people have posted, where they wonder if the characters are too stereotypical or are supposed to be a social commentary. My opinion is that the characters portrayals are somewhat a commentary on today's world, but also that they accurately represent small town Wisconsin. After a career that allowed me to work in 17 different states, I have seen all types of regional differences in people's personalities, and that this is how people actually are in Wisconsin. For the most part, they are genuine, somewhat reserved, and very caring. Perry catches all of this exceptionally well.
One of my favorite parts was when one of the characters is trying to figure out why a person prays: "So how do you tell?" "How do I tell what?" "When you get the answer to your prayer? You hear a voice? You get a feeling? Holy text message?" "Oh, I don't know. I'm not sure you do get an answer. The Lord has more important things to do than advise me on land deals." "And yet you pray." "It helps to settle my mind. To sort my mind". Isn't that it? It helps to settle our minds. To sort things out. To me, it really hit home.
Perry is an unassuming man, a humorist, a philosopher, an outstanding observer of people, and a great writer. This is his first venture into adult fiction (he has a YA novel under his belt). His other works have been non-fiction, auto-biographical, and fantastic character studies. I encourage you to try "Coop, A Year Of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting", and challenge you to come away without having some tears of joy and feeling good about yourself.
If you want to get an idea of Perry's humor, there is a Utube video of his entitled "Michael Perry on Wisconsin 101". It gives you an idea of what his writing will be like. (And for his humor, watch "Farmer Snort").
I cannot recommend this book enough. Perry is one of my favorite living authors. You will not be sorry!